Buzz surrounding Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald may be more relevant this year. Two years after he declined NFL interest, the Big Ten HC is interested in making a jump, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
He appears to have a few suitors. The Falcons and Lions are interested in Fitzgerald, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. And despite a previous report indicating the Texans are not looking to hire a college coach, La Canfora adds that Houston is interested as well.
The Falcons and Lions are moving forward with their respective searches. Both teams are interviewing Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy and Titans OC Arthur Smith. Each team interviewed its interim coach — Raheem Morris and Darrell Bevell, respectively — and Michigan native Robert Saleh has been a frontrunner for this post for a bit now. But Fitzgerald has displayed impressive credentials at Northwestern.
The Wildcats have won 10 games three times since Fitzgerald, a Northwestern player on one of those teams (1995), took over in 2006. In the program’s previous 100-plus years, it only reached the 10-win plateau twice. Northwestern went 7-2 this year. Fitzgerald, 46, is not expected to take every interview possible, JLC adds, but he is squarely back on the NFL radar after not being connected to any pro jobs last year. He would be the third college coach to jump in the past three years, following Kliff Kingsbury and Matt Rhule. Northwestern OC Mike Bajakian, the Buccaneers’ QBs coach from 2015-18, has also received interest as an NFL assistant, La Canfora notes.
It now appears Nick Caserio will be offering key input into Houston’s HC hire, so it would be interesting if the 20-year NFL exec and Division III alum would go with a longtime college coach.
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